WT 97: Navigating the Terrible Twos
Question 1: We have a two and a half year old who reportedly settles right down for a nap daily at school. On his days at home he is very reluctant. He will beat on the door and scream until he falls asleep. We thought surely he was going through a phase but this has been going on for months now. Is there any way we can make this routine event more pleasant? (We have tried sitting with him and he will just keep talking to us. He is not being destructive just very unpleasant. We would even be fine if he would just play. His sleep really went downhill since we moved months ago! He will finally go to bed pleasantly at night but this happened within the last month.)
Karen's Answer: Thank you for this question, sleep is no joke in a parent’s world. Honestly, since he is not being destructive, just beating on the door and screaming, but eventually falls asleep, I would just let that continue. If you never give into him, he will eventually grow tired of it and stop. You say he eventually falls asleep, which is good. Maybe get some headphones and listen to some music or a podcast while the screaming is going on so you don’t hear it. :) Moms On Call has a lot to say about sleeping patterns, so maybe check out their website. I do think sitting with him is not a good idea. You don’t want to start a bad habit, one that will be harder to break the older he gets.
Question 2: How do you transition a child to a daily individual quiet time instead of a nap? And around what age is this likely to occur?
Karen's Answer: Each child is different. Some children grow out of their naps by 2 and others still need a nap at 4. You as the parent are the best judge on “when” they are ready for the transition. But, the “how” part is, when you see them not going down for a nap, fighting it everyday, and never falling asleep, then you tell them that they don’t have to go to sleep but they do have to sit in their room and have some quiet time. Try setting a timer for them so they know when they are able to come out of their room. This transition is a good time to put books in their room, quiet toys that are special to their room they can play with. If you have girls, a baby doll, and accessories and for boys possibly some cars, trucks. legos. This is a great time for your child to learn to play by themselves and use their imagination. Start figuring out where your child is and looking for signs that they are either ready or not ready to move into this stage of life. Be flexible.
Question 3: My 2 year old daughter laughs at me when she's in trouble. If I tell her to do not do something she will laugh in my face. The other day I caught her climbing on the pantry shelves, I told her to get down 3 times and when she didn't I put her in timeout, all while she laughed the entire time. She stayed there for 2 minutes and I talked to her about it after but she didn't seem to really understand. She still thought it was a game. She's like this with her father too when I'm around. She just doesn't listen to me but other people say she's an angel. Am I not putting my foot down enough? What else can I do to discipline if timeout isn't working?
Karen's Answer: I think what you are doing is not working. Sorry! It’s okay, we’ve all been there, don’t get discouraged. I’m glad you asked. Okay, as always these are my opinions. I am JUST a mom, not a counselor or psychiatrist, just a mom. If this were my child and time out was not working this is what I would do. I would take her down from the pantry shelves and I would stand her up and get down on her level, looking into her eyes. I would lower my voice and get serious. I would say, “Taylor, (her name) do not climb on the pantry shelves that is very dangerous. If you do that again, I am going to pop you with this wooden spoon. (I would show her the spoon) I am going to take this spoon and give you three pops on your thigh. (I would show her again) Mommy does not want you to hurt yourself, but if you do not listen and obey me, then you are going to get into trouble. Do you understand me?” She will probably shake her head yes, or say yes. Then when she climbs up there again, AND she will because she is a child, and she is going to test you, then you follow through. When you pop her, do it three times, 1,2,3. Don’t make a big deal about it, just do it. There doesn’t need to be a lot of explanation, because you’ve already explained it to her. When you are finished, get back on her level and say, _______(name) I love you, and I do not want you to hurt yourself, you must obey Mommy. If you do that again, I will pop you again until you learn not to climb on the shelves. Do you understand?” Be consistent. That is the key! Don’t worry if she is laughing at you, that is just a form of manipulation. Be consistent.
Question 4: Everywhere I go with my babies/toddlers people always say, "Enjoy your children while they're young because the years fly by and soon they'll be grown up." What are some ways to apply this thought to our lives? Any purposeful things you did to "stop" and "enjoy" your children along the way?
Karen's Answer: Um, not really! You know, people always told me that too, but if I’m going to be honest, I didn’t enjoy those toddler days all that much! They are hard and long days. Now, before everyone gets all in an uproar, I loved my children and I look at pictures and think to myself, or my goodness they were so cute, and they were. But, teaching, disciplining and training a toddler is no joke. There were moments, that I wanted to freeze frame and stop time, but usually that was when they were sleeping or we were snuggling on the sofa. That is just me! Those years were hard for me and I had all my children back to back, 2 years apart. So, there was no rest for the weary. The way I “enjoyed it” was I got a sitter, and gave myself regular breaks, so that when I came back to the house, I was in a better frame of mind. Enjoy life! Every stage has joys, embrace each season of life, and don’t worry about soaking it all in, that is what pictures are for! Just live! :)
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